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Joseph A. Richardson

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Sarah C. Richards, 2nd wife>

Joseph A. Richardson

1818-1880 Joseph A. Richardson was born in Antigua, West Indies. His father George was an English-born merchant, and his mother Eliza Jane Symes was from a Scottish family with plantation interests in the West Indies.
Joseph was the fourth of seven children, and was 5 years old when he arrived with his mother Eliza and the younger children to the Port of Baltimore in 1824. His father George came the previous year to establish a business in Stirling, Meigs County, Ohio, and to manage the Glasgow Ohio Company.

First Marriage and the Early Years

In the late 1820's the Glasgow Ohio company crumbled and George Richardson moved his family to Wheeling, West Virginia.

Joseph married Sarah J. Williams in 1842. According the record he was living in Wheeling, Sarah in Belmont County, Ohio. They married in Washington County, Pennsylvania, not far from Wheeling, apparently there was less bureaucratic waiting time there.

Joseph and Sarah J. Williams had 6 children.

Theopolis, 1843
George William, 1846
Sarah C., 1848
Alice S., 1850
Joseph, 1852
Ida, 1856

On March 31, 1852 Joseph bought a lot in Peninsula cemetery in Wheeling. That was the day his son George William, aged 6 died. Sarah C. died 2 weeks later, Alice S. followed April 29, and by May 4 his son Joseph was also dead. Whatever spring sickness struck Wheeling that year carried off all four children, leaving the eldest son, Theopolis an only child.

In 2005 I could not find the exact grave sites in Peninsula cemetery. Either the graves were never marked, or the stones were long gone.

Sarah and Joseph produced one last child, Ida Belle, in 1858.

Unfortunately, tragedy struck again. Sarah J. Williams Richardson died of diptheria at the age of 35 in October, 1859. Joseph stepped into 1860 a widower with a one-year-old daughter, and a sixteen-year old son.

Real Estate and the Steam Boat Years

Richardson family business engaged Joseph and his first wife Sarah J. in Ohio real estate. Ohio. Back in 1835 Joseph's older brother Nicholas had married in Meigs County, Ohio and stayed to farm. For some reason, in 1848, there was quite a flurry of land redistribution involving the Richardson and the Lauck families in .Meigs County, Ohio, and Wheeling, West Virginia. Joseph and Sarah also engage in land sales in Ohio County, West Virginia.

Joseph must have spent most of his time on the river. According to an advertisement in The New Orleans Daily Picayune in November, 1858, Captain Joseph Richardson operated a packet called "Belle Creole" which carried freight and passengers between New Orleans and the Attakapas Country. A year later Captain Richardson was still operating the light draught steamboat which remained in the Attakapas to trade during the season.

In February, 1860 Captain Joseph Richardson was running the "Morgan Nelson", a new aide-wheelter passenger steamer on the Red River., and again In January, 1861 he was in New Orleans operating the "Morgan Nelson", a 109 ton steamboat owned by Josiah and James Dillon of Wheeling. March 14, 1861 is the last newspaper reference I could find for Captain Joseph Richardson. The "Morgan Nelson" was leaving New Orleans for the Saline River.

The Captain and Sarah Coolidge Richards

Despite the fact that Captain Joseph Richardson lived on the river, he found time to marry Sarah C. Richards in June of 1860. The Richards were a very old and well-respected Wheeling family, and apparently long-time friends of the Captain. The Captain was 42, Sarah C. was 24.

Less than a year later, the civil war started. As far as I know, Joseph did not serve in the war, but his son Theopolis was in the First West Virginia Infantry, and for the duration of the war was either fighting, or in Confederate prison. Joseph's brother-in-laws James Melvin Richards, and George Connelly, and numerous nephews all fought in the Union army.

During the war, Joseph and Sarah C. lived with her mother, Mary Richards, in Wheeling. His first two children, Joseph Melvin, 1863 and George Leonard Clarence, 1865 were born in Wheeling. Abigail Sophia, 1867, Alma Lorna, 1870, Clyde Alva, 1874 and James Alonzo in 1878 were all born in Sardis, Monroe County, Ohio.

After the war, Joseph sold land in Wheeling, and bought several lots in Sardis, Monroe County, Ohio. Sardis was a very small, but thriving little town south of Wheeling on the Ohio river. By December of 1865 Joseph had moved his young family to Sardis, and set himself up as a merchant with a general store. In 1870 the little town of Sardis was host to Joseph with his store on the waterfront, his son Theopolis and family in his employ, and two nephews, Henry the blacksmith and Reuben.

The new decade also witnessed much death. In the fall of 1872, Joseph and Sarah lost their 2 year old daughter Alma to measles. A year later, Joseph's eldest son Theopolis died prematurely of Civil War related health issues. Theopolis left a widow with 5 children, the youngest only 3 months old.

Joseph sold Sardis lot 9 to his widowed daughter-in-law, Mary Ellen very soon after.

In 1877 Joseph's daughter Ida Belle (child of first wife Sarah) married Samuel M. Suter, settled in Sardis and produced 5 children. Only the first grandchild, Samuel Leroy (1878) was born before Joseph died.

On the night of August 25, 1879 the Richardson store safe was blown up and robbed. No one was hurt.

Joseph died in 1880 and was buried in Sardis cemetery next to his son Theopolis.

Joseph left his widow with five children between the ages of 17 and 2. Sarah was named executatrix of Joseph's estate. Joseph did not leave a will on file in the courthouse, but Sarah submitted one in probate court. The court ordered a complete inventory of Joseph's estate, against which Sarah had to pay off the debts. In 1885 Sarah produced the final accounting, debts paid, to the court. During the next several years Sarah sold off the remaining lots and by 1890 had moved her family back to Wheeling.

Sarah C. Richardson lived until 1928, nearly 50 years after Joseph. All the lots the Richardson's owned along the water front over the years were lost to a disastrous series of twentieth century floods. Today, what was once a busy Sardis water front business district on the Ohio river, is now grassland.

Richardson Stained Glass Window in Sardis Methodist Episcopal Church

Stained Glass Window detail, Sardis Methodist Episcopal Church, Sardis, Monroe County, Ohio. Click on image to see larger view-Richardson section lower middle
Joseph and his wife were very active in the Sardis Methodist Episcopal church. From 1871 (earliest records available) Joseph held the positions of steward and trustee.

The present-day Methodist Episcopal Church, built long after Joseph's death, has a section of stain glass window dedicated to Joseph and Sarah Richardson. I believe that this was because their son, George L. C. Richardson became a Methodist Minister, and was responsible for the dedication. According to a local Monroe County paper in 1931, the Rev. George L.C. Richardson, of Pittsburgh, was an invited speaker for the 1931 Sardis homecoming.

The Reverend was also an avid and enthusiastic family historian, and it is through the generosity of his descendants that I have received most of the pictures, and written legacy has given flesh to the otherwise skeleton bare Richardson family history.